Meatless Monday: Stuffed Aubergines w/ North African & Middle Eastern Fusion [Vegan]

Healthy Recipes, Meatless Monday

Serves: 5-6 (as a starter) or 2-3 as a main course
Prep & Cooking Time: 45-60 mins (*Dependant on skill and/or the number of kitchen helpers!)
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, 2*baking trays, small spoon, silicone mat (or parchment paper), large/non-stick pot, frying spatula (or wooden spoon, grater, manual juicer (optional), serving spoon

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and per serving is low in added sugars, salt and saturated fats!

Hi everyone! Another weekend has come and gone! Did anyone see the two sunrises over the South East this weekend (Saturday in particularly)? It was so beautiful! I guess it does help to soften the blow that our sunrise is currently at ten to eight (roll on winter solstice)! 

Who else was trying to get some Christmas prep organised?! Judging by the number of people buying Christmas plates and red napkins in the stores, we’d say oh, just a few! There’s so much to think about and just not enough time execute it! Last year being a prime example; note to self, do not leave ninety percent of your cooking prep to Christmas Eve- you’re only human (haha!).

Anyways, we’d like to share a recipe a delicious recipe that we made about six weeks ago: ‘Stuffed Aubergines with North African & Middle Eastern Fusion’! It’s a great dish with flavours, food items and themes amalgamated from two similar types of cuisine. 🙂

Simply put, our “Roasted aubergine ‘boats’ are stuffed full of deliciously seasoned and textured bulgur wheat; experience the tastes of the M. East with a tasty ‘Dukkah‘ spice blend and the lovely additions of diced pecans, dried apricots and lemon zest. All topped with a tomato and chickpea mixture, exploding with the tastes of North Africa (courtesy of a deliciuos ras-el hanout spice blend)! Top them off with some plain yoghurt and pomegranate seeds and get set for a meal that will truly satisfy!”

We’d recommend getting a good quality of ras el hanout. Ours came from Seasoned Pioneers … and it had lovely rose petals in it! Their spice blends can really transform your meal and they’re truly second to none! 

Luckily our guesstimates paid off and there was just enough filling for the quantity of aubergine we purchased! If you are not a fan of aubergine, you can always try this recipe with roasted squash, peppers or beef tomatoes instead. Just adapt the spices and/or ingredients as you see fit, but we hope you enjoy this meal!

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

Quick Foodie Facts:

  • Bulgur wheat is a great whole grain; it’s a quick-cooking form of whole-wheat! It’s a great source of of protein, carbohydrates, minerals, fibre, B-Vitamins and is naturally low in fat!  A versatile and nutritious staple food that is consumed in N. Africa, the M. East, parts of Asia and now many other parts of the world; often used for tabbouleh, but enjoy it as an alternative grain in plant-based ‘burgers’, soups, salads or pilaf! 
  • Aubergines, also know as ‘eggplants’ to our North American friends are a great source of dietary fibre, Vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, magnesium, antioxidants (just to name a few!) and are naturally low in fat! Enjoy them ‘stuffed’ full of grains and veggies or as part of salads, stews, soups or a tasty addition to your vegetable skewers! 

 

Ingredients:

Need a an easy-print recipe? Print here.   🙂

 

 

Directions:

Heat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas Mark 8. Line two baking trays with silicone mats or some parchment paper.

 

  • Wash the aubergines and then chop and discard the tops.
  • Slice each aubergine (diagonally) into two halves.
  • With a small and sharp knife or a spoon, remove a bit of the middle flesh, so the aubergines will look like ‘little boats’, but do not discard the flesh!
  • Place them onto a baking tray. Drizzle and rub some olive oil over all sides (or spray with some low-fat cooking oil). Keep the aubergines ‘flesh side down’ (unlike what is illustrated in step 6!).
  • Roughly tear (or chop up) the bits of reserved flesh. Place them onto the other tray. Drizzle over some oil. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste. Toss and coat.
  • Place both trays into the oven; the aubergine halves onto the middle oven shelf and the pieces of flesh onto the lower oven shelf. Bake the aubergine halves for 30 mins or until soft and nicely roasted, turning once. Bake the pieces of flesh for 20-25 mins or until lightly browned and softened; toss and turn once. Remove.

 

 

In the meantime, prepare the filling!

  • Peel and dice the garlic and onion. Wash, remove the stem and core and then finely chop the bell pepper.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil ( or use some low-fat cooking oil) in non-stick pot over a medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion. Gently fry for 1-2 mins or until softened.
  • Add the bell pepper. Gently fry for a further 2 mins or until softened.
  • Add 3g ground cumin and 2g ras-el hanout spice blend. Season with a couple pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.Stir to coat.
  • Add the tin tomatoes, chickpeas, 20g tomato purée and 2 tbsp of water. Stir to combine. Cover and allow to simmer for about 8-10 mins or until hot and slightly thickened.

 

 

Meanwhile, prepare the bulgur wheat according to your packet instructions…

…and prep the last few ingredients!

  • Wash, grate some zest and then juice the lemon. Dice the apricots and pecans. Wash the parsley, remove the leaves from its stem and then roughly chop them. Tip: If you have time, dry-fry the nuts to help release their natural flavour!
  • Remove the tomato mixture from the heat. Add the baked aubergine flesh and pour in half of quantity of lemon juice. Stir through. Taste and season as necessary. Cover with the lid and leave for the moment.
  • When the bulgur wheat has finished cooking, add 1-2 tsp of lemon zest, the remaining juice, apricots, pecans, half of the parsley, 2 tsp dukkah spice mix and a pinch of asafoetida. Season with a little salt and black pepper to taste. Stir with a fork to thoroughly combine and fluff the grains.

 

 

Assemble The Aubergines!

  • Place the aubergines onto a large serving plate. Spoon the bulgur wheat mixture into and evenly between the aubergine halves, gently pressing it snugly into it.
  • Evenly distribute and spoon the tomato mixture over the top.

 

 

Garnish with some yoghurt, pomegranate seeds and/or the remaining fresh parsley if preferred!

 

Enjoy!

Sources
USDA: Nutrient Database
**Recipe updated: 19/02/16
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Slow Cooker Turkish Pilaf [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep: ≤ 35 mins
Cooking Time: 2-3 hrs (*on a high heat setting.)
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board(s), sharp knife, colander, large/non-stick frying pan, frying spatula, measuring jug, slow cooker

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & E, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and per serving has a moderate quantity of added sugar, salt and fat!

Pilaf is a simple, global and personalised dish; in fact it’s so simple that you can even cook it perfectly in a slow cooker! Arguably, it may of even cooked better than our stove top variety; sometimes ‘cheaper’ varieties of rice can be a headache! Yes, a simple rice dish (with minimum prep!) that is typically a one-pot meal (sorry about the frying pan!). 

Our fluffy Turkish pilaf was cooked in a seasoned broth with tasty mint, cinnamon and chilli and served with some of our delicious ‘crumbled feta‘, a dollop of low-fat houmous and a wedge of pitta bread. Garnish by scattering some lovely and beautiful pomegranate ‘gems’, toasted nuts, tasty dates and a delicious medley of herbs. Serve it in a large bowl and enjoy every delicious spoonful packed full of great Middle Eastern tastes! 🙂

Perhaps this is an ideal dish to add to your weekend planner?! #mealplanning 

We hope that you do try this delicious, stress free rice that can be seasoned with any flavour(s) that take you fancy; enjoy it often with spices and seasoning’s from all around the globe! 

Have a good weekend everyone and happy cooking!

 

We decided to use rapeseed oil (not olive) and no bell pepper! We also added a splash of rose water (not seen here). The ‘dried dill bottle’ was a reminder for us to defrost some of our frozen dill  and flat leaf parsley! We used packaged’ pomegranate seeds, but check out our previous Middle Eastern recipe on how to remove pomegranate seeds from a pomegranate. 🙂

 

Ingredients

+++++++++++++++3             Garlic Clove (fat ones, about 20g!)
+++++++++++++++180g       White Onion
+++++++++++++++1              Green Chilli (we used a 30g Serrano!)
+++++++++++++++260g      Carrot
+++++++++++++++1 tbsp     Rapeseed Oil
+++++++++++++++2g           Dried Mint
+++++++++++++++3g           Ground Cinnamon
+++++++++++++++¼-½ tsp Salt & Ground Black Pepper
+++++++++++++++350g      Dried Easy Cook Basmati Rice
+++++++++++++++720g      Cooked Chickpeas (*about 3 tins or 360g dried + cooked)
+++++++++++++++700ml   Boiling Vegetable Stock (low-salt/GF if required)
+++++++++++++++1 tbsp     Rose water (*optional)
+++++++++++++++60g        Hazelnuts (or pine nuts)
+++++++++++++++60g        Dried Dates (or your favourite dried fruit)
+++++++++++++++               Fresh Dill
+++++++++++++++               Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
+++++++++++++++100g      Pomegranate Seeds

 

 

Directions

If you fancy it, prepare our ‘crumbled feta‘ first. Cover and refrigerate until the pilaf has finished cooking. Alternatively prepare it the night before; dice and serve it with the cooked rice.

 

Peel and dice the garlic. Peel and finely chop the onion. Wash the chilli, remove the stem, deseed and then finely chop. Wash, peel, trim the ends and finely cube the carrot.

 

 

  • Heat some rapeseed oil (or spray some low-fat cooking oil spray) in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat .
  • Add the garlic and onion. Gently fry for 1-2 mins or until soft.
  • Add the chilli and carrot. Gently fry for a further 2-3 mins or until softened. Tip: Whilst your waiting for the veggies to soften, boil 700ml of water in a kettle (you’ll need this for your stock!).
  • Add 2g dried mint 3g ground cinnamon. Season it with ¼- ½ tsp salt and black pepper. Stir to coat.
  • Add the rice. Stir to coat. Remove from the heat.

 

 

  1. Transfer the rice mixture into a slow cooker. Add the cooked chickpeas (*drain and wash any tinned varieties before adding!).
    2. Prepare the stock; pour it into the slow cooker. Add the rose water (if using). Stir together.
    3. Cover with a lid. Cook on a high heat setting for 2-3 hours (NB: ours took 2.5hrs).
    4. Fluff the rice grains with a fork just before serving; taste and season as necessary…but try not to eat it all of it straight out of the slow cooker! 😛

 

Before the rice has finished cooking, prepare some garnishes. Toast some hazelnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat (and then roughly chop), finely dice some dried fruit (if applicable) and wash/finely chop some fresh dill and/or parsley (if desired).

 

Serve in a large bowl in addition to the ‘crumbled feta’, houmous (or minty yoghurt!) and pitta bread (if desired). Garnish the rice with nuts, dried fruit, fresh dill and/or parsley.

Both pictures show one portion of pilaf. 🙂

 

Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate any leftover rice in a resealable container (ideally within an hour after cooking); reheat and consume within 1-2 days. Alternatively freeze the rice (without garnishes) in one or more resealable containers; defrost, reheat and consume within 1-2 months.

Refrigerate the ‘crumbled feta’ in a separate air-tight and resealable container; consume within 3-4 days.

NB: When reheating, always check to make sure the rice is steaming hot all the way through and do not reheat the rice more than once. 

Recipe updated: 19/02/16